05 September 2009

San Salvador and Berlin - Sept 5

I slept reasonably well. I got up once in the night and saw lightning. Not too long after that, there was a huge storm. I laid there and listened to the storm for a while then went back to sleep.

After going to bed last night at 8:30pm, Jane and I were up, showered and downstairs by 6:45am. Breakfast was scheduled for 8:00. We spent the intervening time having coffee on the porch in the garden. I had coffee, too. I decided to “go native” this trip and not bring tea with me.

We saw a humming bird visiting the flowers in the garden. We also saw 3 of the garden turtles with their paint jobs.

Breakfast was traditional…scrambled eggs, refried beans, fried plantains, fresh cheese, toast and coffee.

Alfredo came to pick us up around 9 to take us to Divina Providencia, the cancer hospital where Monsignor Romero lived and worked. It also has the chapel where he was delivering a funeral Mass when he was shot. The small house where he lived has been turned into a sort of museum with photos of him and his personal effects that has been set up and maintained by the nuns there. His assassination in 1980 is one of the things that precipitated the start of the war. He’s been beatified within the Catholic Church. He’s in the process of becoming Saint Romero. Even though it hasn’t officially happened yet, the people of El Salvador often refer to him as Saint.

After Divina Providencia, we went to Parque (Park) Cuscatlan to see the memorial wall. This wall lists the names of all the people (that they know of so far) who died during the war. It’s sorted by year and by whether they were killed or disappeared. Other than that, there’s no real organization to the names…they aren’t in alphabetical order or anything. We spent some time and found Rutilio Grande and Oscar Romero. There’s also a listing of the massacres that happened during the war. I found the names of the sites that I’d visited before.

One end of the wall is a 3-dimensional mural showing the history of El Salvador from ancient to modern times.

It’s a nice and rather large park. There was a soccer game going on at one end. There were ice cream vendors walking around with their wheeled carts, ringing their cart bells. There were couples sitting on benches…talking or smooching. Families were picnicking on tables or blankets spread on the ground. At one point a group of kids with Down Syndrome all dressed in blue uniforms (shorts, shirt and a neckerchief) like a Boy Scout troupe gathered into a circle under the trees.

After the park, we went to the artisan market that we usually go to. It contains several outdoor aisles with vendor booths on each side. If you’re looking for anything typically Salvadoran, you’ll find it here. I ended up buying an El Salvador soccer shirt ($12), an orange summery dress ($25) and a pair of silver earrings with amethyst stones ($3). Others got shirts, hand painted wooden crafts, hammock chairs, etc.

We decided to meet at the diner type place at the market for lunch at 11:30. It’s a buffet sort of thing with a half dozen or so main dishes and a few sides. You tell them (or point to) what you want and they put it on a plate for you. They also had cold bottled or canned drinks. Lunch for 7 people came to $27.

After lunch, we loaded up the microbus and Alfredo drove us to Berlin. It’s about an hour and 45 minute drive, most of it on the Pan-American Highway and headed up and away from the coast. It was a mostly uneventful drive. The only curious/interesting thing that happened was that we passed a bus that was stopped along the road. There were police officers, about 6 guys standing in a row and one guy in handcuffs behind him, sitting on the ground with his head down. Don’t know for sure what that was about… There are reports of gangs holding up public transport buses and robbing everyone on them. It may have been something like that here.

We arrived at La Casa Pastoral, greeted everyone, introduced Michael (our only member who had never been here before) and hauled bags to rooms. Then we went for a walk around town and I bought a comb at the tienda (store) across the street from La Casa.

We had a meeting with El Equipo Pastoral (the pastoral team) that was present (Milagro, Miguel, Otilia and Blanca) for the usual welcome and then another meeting with just Miguel to talk about San Francisco, our sister community. This meeting lasted until supper time and dark. It was fully dark by 6:30.

For supper, we had spaghetti with hot dog slices, boiled veggies (carrot, green bean and a couple types of squashy things), and watermelon.

After supper I delivered the kids clothes and vitamins I brought along with the vitamins the others brought. Most of us sent email to people back home. It started to rain. Blanca and I made origami boxes with the paper I’d brought. Then I read some. I’m more than halfway through the book I started on the plane. At this rate, there won’t be enough left for the plane ride home… To bed at 10:00.